Wonders are Collectable. Hans Holbein the Younger, 1523-1526.

In case you’ve forgotten, Halloween is this Wednesday. This woodcut is part of a series Holbein did on the Dance of Death theme. The surrealist sculpture by Yoshitoshi Kanemaki questions “What’s life? Post-Impressionist titan of the French art world, Paul Cézanne, whose work goes for millions of dollars even today, offered up a radical take on the still life with “Pyramid of Skulls” (1901). Cézanne was increasingly preoccupied with death and mortality, in his later years.

In particular, the painting underlines the cursoriness of beauty. Death yearns for life. It’s a vision of death, decay and time that is quite disturbing.

October 29, 2012 Image via Wikimedia Commons. The 13th century legend of the Three Living and the Three Dead was a popular theme of murals and frescoes. Daniel Preisler (Prague, before 1627-1655 Nuremberg), circle of Nuremburg, c. 1650 Oil on wood Dimensions with the frame: Height 56 cm, width 45 cm, Published in: Laue, G.: The Kunstkammer. Her body, the reflection and the table join to form a human skull.

Some paintings included attributes that were specific to a particular person’s life, such as scientific instruments, works of art, or military insignia and weapons. A king’s crown, a bishop’s mitre, a papal tiara, and a crowned turban sitting atop a robe of ermine-edged silk brocade are emblems of political and ecclesiastical power.

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7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. Paintings from Preisler have been preserved in the Anton Ulrich Museum in Braunschweig, in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna and in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg. The latter starkly demonstrated the way in which death united all, felling the population without the faintest regard for age or rank.

No. In Harnett’s example, the extinguished candle, spent hourglass, and skull symbolize death. With all the ghosts and goblins decorating homes these days, I figured it’s a great time to talk about one of my favorite genres of art: memento mori. 6 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s to remind the viewer that life is precious, so they better not waste it on frivolous and meaningless things. The three essentials of existence: life, death, and time.

The face is split between flesh and bone as a reminder that a good life leads to a good death and the splendour of heaven. Us moderns don’t like to think too much about death.